Today On A Bike

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I’m sitting in a plane on a runway in Texas thinking about riding and the experiences it provides me. I spent the last bit in Photoshop editing a few pictures from last weekends St. Louis mountain biking trip with friends. Chubb in St. Louis is a great trail that I fall more in love with every time I ride it. It’s got the most tech within three hours of driving that I’ve found. It’s not a long trail but it packs a rocky, techy punch in terms of midwest terrain. I love it.

I stared at the “staircase” at Chubb for what feels like the fifth trip without taking the drop line. I took the rollable line yet again. I had intentions of trying it but bailed on it again based on how sketchy the run up is, being filled with foot size rocks sprinkled everywhere.

While we were there, we sessioned the “staircase” a bit and I caught a friend going for a ride over his bars, but he’s alright.

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This trip confirmed the I thoughts had from my Alabama mountain bike trip earlier this year, I love my Ibis HD3. It’s perfect in every aspect from what I’ve ridden.

The parts I swapped in the spring were great changes. The change to a one by drivetrain is amazing. For trail riding, the gear range allows for a slow crawling gear to get up about anything and the top end is plenty fast for my needs, all without ever needing to change front chainrings. What’s not to love? The mix match of Sram XX01 cassette and XX1 chain paired with the Shimano 11 speed XTR shifter and XTR 11 speed rear derailleur works flawlessly with the help of the Wolf Tooth chainring and Goat Link. All of that wordy jargon translates into an experience on the bike that when pedaling at any cadence shifts without any fuss. It has all the range I’ll need, and also allows me to grab a handful of gear changes at once. Need to throw the shifter three clicks after cresting a hill, no problem.

The Slaughter rear tire rolls far better than any all mountain has a right to while also maintaining a vicious ability to grab the ground when asked to corner hard. It’s the best of both worlds. The riding experience on the tire even avoids the one thing I was worried about, a harsh transition from the small knobbed fast rolling center to the big knobbed biting outer knob section. As far as I’ve been able to tell, it’s seamless and the traction is linear, it doesn’t get loose and then bite in a big way. Say what you want about Specialized, but they know tires and on top of that, they mount tubleless without any fuss and are cheaper than most alternatives. Win, win, win, I’m sold.

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It was a great trip with great people. A great way to spend a sunny Memorial Day.

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Today On A Bike

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My wife, my amazing wonderful wife, got me a GoPro Hero 4 Black for my birthday It’s been fun learning how to best use it for what I want out of it. The mountain bike pictures are from yesterday riding Wildlife MTB trails in Peoria Illinois with friends. The trails are rocky and offer both tight tech as well as flow, a great time if you’re in the area.

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Bonus pictures from last week on the road bike. I bought a couple of K-Edge GoPro mounts on the advice of a friend. I bought a saddle rail camera mount as well as a mount for under my Garmin mount, allowing me to shoot video or take pictures facing forward or backward.

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I’ll post more thoughts about the GoPro and mounts as time goes onFor now, I’m enjoying summer.

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Today On A Bike

2016-03-06 15.13.53

I went in search of some different riding today. My time on a trainer, rollers, and riding pathways left me hungry for a gravel adventure. The gravel roads around Mackinaw, IL were the setting for a good day outside. Mid-ride I took a wrong turn from what I had loaded into my Garmin. Luckily, even riding off course was enough to have a good time.

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Today On A Bike

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I joined some friends for a night ride at Lake Evergreen yesterday. My friend Tom took some great pictures during the ride, thanks! When I saw the one of me by the bridge, I really liked it and asked to share it here. It captures a lot of what night riding on snow during the winter feels like.

The conditions were great despite it being about 15º F. Riding in the wind blocking woods coupled with some good layering made it really enjoyable, besides my out of shape legs being slightly angry with me. The thin layer of snow over hard frozen dirt provided a lot of traction and good times.

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Today On A Bike

2016-01-21 15.40.02.1

It was so quiet. It was as if I was the only person on the planet. For years I’ve looked out on this lake as I rode single track that winds around it, but today I experienced it completely different, and it was made possible by a silly bicycle.

I’ve ridden countless hours at Comlara mountain bike trails since moving to Bloomington in 2007. It’s been a big part of who I am. The trails have led me down a path where I’ve met amazing people. I’ve had life experiences that I may not have had if these trails didn’t exist ten minutes away from town. I’ve traveled to far away mountain ranges and spent great vacations with amazing people.

For years, I’ve looked out at the lake that lies at the center of the local mountain bike trails. It was something that always looked back but never really inspired anything from me. But today, when I was on a ride I noticed that the lake was frozen pretty solid and some tracks were out on it. Where I’d taken a right hundreds of times I choose to take a left, out onto the ice-covered lake.

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It was a pretty special thing to look in on the single track that’s changed my life in so many ways. I saw views I’ve never seen. It was areas that I know very well, but viewed from a perspective I’ve never had the privilege to see before. I rode around the lake for a little while, enjoying the serenity and looking in at sections of single track that I’ve spent so much time on. It was like looking in on the setting from a period of my life from a foreign perspective.

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Today I was reminded why these silly fat bikes strike a chord with myself. They allow me these experiences that are unique and enjoyable.

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Today On A Bike

2016-01-03 09.08.20

After a long while of rain and warmer temperatures, it was nice to get out on frozen dirt today with a bunch of others. I’ve been riding mainly pathways this winter staying active. I’ve been mentally somewhere between off-season fun first riding and starting to work towards race season.

I signed up for Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival again. It’s been a yearly marker for the end of my race season that I really enjoy both for the race but also the environment and hanging out with good people. If you’re interested, you should check it out. Registration is still open but the available spots will fill up. I plan on racing the Illinois Mountain Bike Series and signing up for as many crits as possible. But for now, it’s just about chasing the person in front of me and smiling, mostly.

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Today On A Bike

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After returning from our Moab cycling trip, I still wanted to ride more rock and tech. The closest rock I knew about was in St. Louis at Chubb and Greensfelder. Group adventures on trips like this are more fun I think. I posted a feeler on my local MTB club’s Facebook and was happy to find ten or so others wanted to join in. The trip was great, and I think a few of us really needed a day of fall awesomeness in the woods with others.2015-11-07 12.35.26

The trails were fun. The fallen leaves slowed the pace as the rocks were hidden and corners were a mystery of grip.2015-11-07 12.43.27

Chubb trail’s staircase or whatever you want to call it was still cool to look at and mess around on. I really wanted to do the drop, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe next year. I did roll the feature on the side a few times.2015-11-07 12.02.43

After we finished both rides we smiled, soaked in the warm November sunshine, and enjoyed a beer before leaving to get food and head home.2015-11-07 16.26.51 2015-11-07 16.24.24

My first road trip with my (new to me) STI. It did well, more fun to drive than Element but not as functional.2015-11-07 16.51.13

Another great fall trip complete. Another memory in what has been an interesting year for me and bikes. Group adventures like this are good for my soul, a reset of perspective and energy. They are what I tend to remember most fondly. Good times with amazing people not focused on work or troubles, but rather enjoying the moment, the opportunity to get away and enjoy the outdoors with like-minded people.

I’m looking forward to watching Mother Nature’s color palette change from burnt oranges of fall sunsets and fall leaves to the cool and still blues of winter. Lots of winter snowy riding ahead.

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